Mathew Barber's Tony-nominated Enchanted April radiates an uplifting glow over enthusiastic audiences wherever it is performed. Although set against the turbulent background of post-World War I Europe and an era marked by loss and sweeping social change, Barber's adaptation of Elizabeth Von Arnim's 1921 best-selling novel is resolutely optimistic in spirit. It traces the stories of four very different Englishwomen, two with stalled marriages and all strangers at first, as they experience the restorative warmth of a shared springtime holiday in a secluded Italian castle. The sexes do battle, husbands are forced to make crucial choices, and even the women occasionally spar. But Barber's play triumphs as a delightful romantic comedy, complete with sparkling conversation and farcical situations, and there are important lessons about hope and personal transformation that all can share.
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